August 31, 2019
Polls have shown that moving is right up there with death as one of the most stressful times in your life. I actually I think dying would be less stressful because at least when you die, you don’t ever have to move again.
This summer we decided to do something that sounds impossible: move, with no advance preparation, in about a month. While I don’t recommend moving this way, the experience taught me a lot about how to move.
First thing: Moving isn’t just one day. It’s one day on a journey that includes many moving parts.
In my work life, I’m uber-organized. But in my home life, it’s my husband who is the organized one. I’m the one who you can find on the couch crying because it’s all so overwhelming.
The first step in our move was the husband telling me to get off the couch and “snap out of it.” Then he came up with a color-coded sticker system so we could mark each piece that was coming with us, going to storage, or leaving us by getting sold, donated or thrown away. (Pick your colors carefully as you’ll be find those stickers everywhere well after you move).
Second tip: Don’t do it alone. Make sure you hire the entire cast of “Ben Hur” (or get your friends) to help you. We started by hiring Lorraine Bohonos, an expert organizer, who was indispensable in figuring out how to downsize and organize but also in helping to put things away with logic and expertise (using her awesome labeling machine) once we moved to our smaller space.
Joe Nardone, decorator extraordinaire, helped us pick which furniture, art and objects from our old house would fit into the new space and worked with me to re-purpose our old pieces to great dramatic effect.
Joe told me, “Why leave behind something special when it can be rediscovered in your new home?” He even took a couch that was in the son’s basement Xbox lair — a piece we bought 35 years ago for $100 — and had it reupholstered as the centerpiece of our new space. It’s gorgeous. Most important, Joe was kind, gently helping me let go of things that were sentimental but not practical or honestly, not attractive.
Third tip: Be out of town when you actually have to move. Actually that’s not a tip — it just happened to me. Because the move was unexpected and I was already booked for business travel six time zones away, I had to stifle my control freak ways and let go. Still, it’s hard to have someone move your entire life for you, even if that person is the person with whom you share your life. The husband, who works with many top chefs around the country to move them out of their old spaces, kept reminding me, “I do this for a living.” And I kept reminding him that those chefs aren’t married to him. And, I’m not a restaurant.
He was smart enough to outsource to a great moving company for the heavy lifting. Hiring Clark Moving & Storage meant we could take care of all the many details while they took care of everything else.
Now that it’s all done, the biggest thing I learned about moving is that no matter how much help you have, those polls are right: Moving is emotional and exhausting.
But a few weeks in, I can also say that it’s incredibly energizing. I feel lighter, not only because I’ve lost at least ten pounds from stress but because we’ve shed many more pounds of stuff.
As first published in the Democrat + Chronicle and on the USA Today Network